May 1, 1979

There was nothing extraordinary about the safehouse in Ipswich. Having sough safety in seven since the start of her career as an anti-revolutionary, Lily could attest that there was nothing remarkable in regards to its size – a three bedroom structure with an unfinished basement that let in the brisk night air – or its history – a pre-war structure that had survived the air raids unscathed. Nothing at all to distinguish it from the three dozen refuges the Order employed.

Except the inoffensive, even unassuming house remained Lily's least favorite safehouse by far.

Conveniently located between London and Thetford Forest, where the North Suffolk werewolves collected, the Ipswich safehouse saw more traffic, and frantic, often screaming traffic at that, than any other. In the six days since Lily and James had taken up residence in the East-facing bedroom, Lily had not known a moment's peace.

For the dozenth time that night, Lily rolled over in a bid to get comfortable. She deliberately mashed her ear into a pillow in the hopes to lessen the impact of the next, inevitable disruption. Beside her, James snored. Years of rooming with Sirius and his screaming nightmares had inoculated James against noise in the night. He would spring up in the morning, put on his glasses, and face the day as energetic as a kindergartner returning to school after Christmas Hols. Meanwhile, Lily wondered if there was a point at which dark circles became permanent.

Peck. Peck. Peck.

That would be an owl with no doubt urgent correspondence. Lily guessed it was outside the kitchen window. No need for her to react.

Eliza Clarke was on call that night, the only other semi-permanent resident of the safehouse. In the Order, it was common to stay at a safehouse for only a matter of nights before moving on, always some new emergency to circumvent. Jones had been settled in the house for a practically unheard of three months. Clarke was one of the best healers in the Order, and the third bedroom was essentially a sickroom for whoever had been cursed most recently. Lily and James would need to leave soon to make room for the next felled soldier. The full moon was around the corner, and Lily suspected it would be Remus.

Lily heard the creak of a bedroom door. As she expected, Clarke crept to the kitchen to answer the persistent owl. Slippers cloaked most of her footfalls, but there was no stopping the squeal of the bottom step.

Almost silence lingered in the room. Nothing to hear but James' little breathy snores. Lily and James had shared a bed nearly a thousand times, so James' sleep sounds made up the melody of Lily's favorite lullaby. She drifted into a dose, no thought staying long enough at the front of her brain to fully formulate. It all just slipped away, and Lily was happy to follow.

Woosh!

"Anyone there? Present yourself?"

The floo. Mad-Eye.

Lily's brain supplied the answers before her mind had finished asking the question. They were expecting Mad-Eye in the morning. He was to deliver their next assignment. If history served, it would be either to take advantage of Lily's potioneering or James' reckless disregard for his own life and limb. He made an unsettlingly good soldier.

With her sleep already out of reach, Lily sat up. Better to get it out of the way. With any luck, Mad-Eye's orders would take her and James far from Ipswich.

Lily deftly ignored the bright panic that always accompanied new orders. They hadn't separated James from her yet.

As suddenly as the voices downstairs had started up, they stopped. The floo roared and fell silent. If Lily strained, she could make out the familiar crackle of a hearth fire, nothing magical about it.

Lily flopped back onto her stack of pillows. Maybe Mad-Eye had stopped by to relay something unrelated to them, for Clarke's ears only. Maybe he'd been pulled away by something innocent but pressing…a drunken colleague or a scandalous love confession. Alright, most likely someone was dead or maimed or cursed or about to be dead or maimed or cursed. Wasn't that always the case?

Lily hadn't heard word from Marlene in two months.

Any downstairs disturbance would have been preferable to where Lily's mind went then. Staring up at the ceiling, Lily couldn't see anything to distract her in the dark. The war had her yearning for a nightlight, those childhood promises of protection from monsters that turned out to be very very real.

"Soon. Soon."

The words were spoken into her shoulder, half-slurred with sleep.

"What's soon, James?"

Lily rolled onto her side to look at him. His eyes stayed shut, breathing even.

"I'll take you home soon."

"Where is home?"

Whispering the words broke her heart. She'd called Cokeworth home for eleven years, Hogwarts for another seven. The Potter Estate had been a home the first time she visited, but since the funeral, it had become a museum to the dead, a container for all of James' grief that he couldn't carry with him into the war if he didn't want to end up joining his parents in death. Truthfully, when the parade of safehouses came to an end, Lily didn't know where they would go.

"Home is…with you," James murmured.

He then snored so loudly that he choked on it.

Honestly, the whole Order could have apparated into the room and James would have kept on dreaming. It wasn't the first time he'd spoken in his sleep. At times, James was capable of complex conversation, like coaching a pretend Quidditch match or firing off one of his prized puns. Normally, he just mumbled about the symbols that made up his dreamscape, something to the tune of, "Fish on bicycles grooming the manticores," followed by more snoring.

Lily thought it was somehow sweeter that James was dreaming of a home with her, rather than actively trying to deliver reassurances. Her anxiety didn't soften, but her heart did.

"My home is with you, too," Lily said, even if he wouldn't process the words in his sleep.

James smiled like maybe he did.

Lily took a moment to trace the lines of his face with her eyes. The shadows couldn't conceal from her what she could recall so well from memory: the scar at his temple from a nasty fall down a moving staircase, the encroaching laugh lines earned early from a lifetime of hilarity, the supple lower lip that swelled when she sucked on it.

That very lip quivered as James started speaking again, "Going to marry you. Marry you in a wedding. There will be cake."

Lily's face broke into a smile. "Cake, huh? Let's reach for the stars and have ice cream, too."

"Yummy."

He wouldn't remember a minute of it come morning, one nondescript night of good sleep fading into the next. But she would. Most days, Lily felt like she had nothing left to give. But, like she was a wet rag, James could always wring just one last drop out of her. With a smile, a joke, a word of encouragement, somehow James would make her feel like the girl she once was, and that was all she needed to keep fighting. He was her safehouse.

"James, next time you ask me to marry you, I'm going to say yes. I'll say yes and kiss you until we both can't breathe. Until we both forget everything about this year from hell. Until it's just me and you. Because it will always be me and you," Lily murmured. "I honestly can't wait."

"Hmm, sounds nice," James agreed.

Lily placed a kiss on the smooth skin of his brow, marveling at how little tension lay there when he slept. Where did he keep his worries? He was the most beautiful man she'd ever known.

"Lily?"

"Yes, love?"

"Can it be a strawberry cake?"

A bang from downstairs – the front door – was followed by a cacophony of shouting voices. From the din, Lily caught something about a raid on a Death Eater hold out in Colchester. Lily immediately flung off the duvet and prepared to race downstairs. The floor was cold beneath her bare feet, but she wouldn't have time to hunt down a pair of slippers. She always slept in something decent now, too afraid of nighttime interruptions, so no need to throw on a robe.

Wondrously, a smatter of laughter rose from their new guests. That meant there'd be wounded – there were always wounded – but no dead. A good day.

Hand on the doorknob, Lily turned back to James, still sleeping on his side like nothing had changed. Lily wanted to give him every comfort that had been denied them the last year, including a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep.

"Yes, James. You'll feast on strawberry cake," Lily promised before slipping out the door.

And the next day, even though Lily had stayed up all night helping Clarke tend to the wounded, she still found time to bake one perfect strawberry cake.

She was James' refuge, too.


A/N:

What was this? A chapter?

At the start of this year, I got inspired (thank you TiffanyToms) to go back and reread the Bet, which has reignited my love for James/Lily and made me eager to write again. I feel like I'm pretty rusty after a year of not even trying to write, but hopefully this turned out okay all the same. I think this series is perfect for easing myself back into writing, so I'm going to keep working on this series over the next few days.

Like I said, hopefully it turned out ok and returning - or new readers - enjoyed!

Oh! Also, changed my username on here from Auntleona0 to Sleepinghookah in case anyone is confused about who the hell this is.